The US Navy returns to the goal of 355 buildings

The US Navy now has just over 290 combat ships, and President Trump, when he was elected, set a target of 355 ships by the end of the next decade. In question, the rise in power of the Chinese Navy, which should have in 2030 more than 500 combat ships, even if the American ships are, on average, heavier and more powerful than their Chinese counterparts.

However, it seems that this objective is being challenged by the US Navy itself. Indeed, a significant part of its ships, in particular the cruisers of the Ticonderoga class, reach the age limit. However, to achieve the announced objective, the only solution would be to extend the life of these buildings, which would be very expensive, both in industrial investments and in men, because American shipyards are already very busy in the production of new ones. Arleigh Burke Flight III destroyers, new Ford-class aircraft carriers, America-class LHDs, or future 20 frigates from the FFG / X program.

The US Navy, like other American armies, engaged in programs with excessive technological ambitions in the 90s and 2000s, such as the Sea class submarines. wolf, the Zumwalt-class destroyers, and the Freedom and Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships. This results in a significant delay in the replacement of ships in the fleet, notably cruisers, destroyers and frigates, but also logistics ships, the Sea Lift Command having recently announced that it was now unable to maintain a naval bridge with the Europe, where applicable.

Added to these equipment problems are proven difficulties in recruiting, training and maintaining staff. The repeated collisions of US Navy ships have in fact shown a real deficiency in these 3 areas, leading to an increase in operational pressure on the crews, and a reduction in the training given.

Therefore, it is impossible for the US Navy to envisage reaching a size of 355 vessels before 20 years, without artificially keeping ships in service well beyond their age limit. On the other hand, the command of the US Navy is seriously considering integrating major autonomous naval surface and submarine units into the definition of “combat ships”, work in this area being advanced and promising. It remains to evaluate the effectiveness and reliability of these autonomous vessels at sea, over time…

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